Does killing Elephants actually help save them?

No.

            Upon looking at a study conducted in 2014-2015 that I read from a link on a Washington Post article, It’s obvious that the population of Savannah Elephants is showing a significant decline since 2010. This decline is primarily due to poaching. In addition, the study showed that there was no significant difference in the mortality rates in protected and unprotected areas, which means that protected areas are ineffective. Therefore, the study failed to reject the null hypothesis that there is no difference between protected and unprotected areas. In addition, research has shown that trophy hunting is not as lucrative for the economy as some may claim. Finally, Zimbabwe is currently in a state of political upheaval, which means it is in no position to further Elephant conservation. In my opinion, these factors together show that trophy hunting harms Elephants more than it helps them.

Elephants

Background

            I chose this article because I remember seeing Elephant herds when I went on a trip to South Africa with my family in the summer of 2015. Having witnessed the beauty of these majestic creatures in the wild, I care a lot about Elephant conservation. In summary, supporters of trophy hunting claim that the revenue from permit fees can be put towards furthering conservation efforts for endangered species. On that note, President Trump reversed a ban on importing African Elephant trophies from Zimbabwe. However, this decision is now put on hold as President Trump reviews all the facts. This article goes on to provide further arguments against the ban’s reversal.

Additional Information

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This article provided several sources of data to further their arguments. The most important piece of information I gleaned from this article was an in-depth study conducted by the Global Elephant Census. This census focused on two important questions. The first was to evaluate the effectiveness of protected areas on a continental scale by comparing Elephant populations in protected and unprotected areas. The second was how have Elephant populations changed across Africa in the past 20 years? The study concluded that there was a carcass ratio of 12.0 +/- 0.2% in protected areas and 13.2 +/- 0.3% in unprotected areas. Carcass ratios greater than 8 generally indicate a declining population.

There was not a significant difference between the two ratios, because the P-value was 0.49, and the fresh carcass ratio also did not show a significant difference (P-value 0.42). These findings could be interpreted in multiple ways. However, I interpreted these findings to mean that the protected areas were ineffective, otherwise I would expect to see a significant increase in Elephant mortality in the unprotected areas compared to the protected areas. In addition, the census estimated the total Elephant population to be 352,271. The population decreased by an estimated 144,000 from 2007-2014. The population is currently shrinking by roughly 8% per year.

 

There were also some concerns I had with this study, although not enough to discredit it entirely. The first was that they were unable to incorporate the data from South Africa into the study, which raised some red flags. South Africa contains Kruger National Park, which is a massive area of land. This data would have been valuable when estimating the total population. Another challenge of the study is that they used an aerial survey, which means that all observers missed some animals on surveys. Finally, the census only applied to Savannah Elephants. In conclusion, this study, in combination with the fact that research indicates that the total economic contribution of trophy hunters is only 0.03% of GDP, leads me to agree with the article’s claim that the ban should not be reversed.

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Will the Park Service’s proposal to double entry fees fix their maintenance problem?

It’s unlikely the problem will be fixed in the immediate future.

Raising the park’s fees will most likely deter visitors. Without visitors buying tickets, there will be no influx of cash that is so desperately needed in order to fix the parks’ maintenance problems. Thus, according to the data from the Washington Post article, using this method will do more harm than good. The parks will remain in disrepair, and there will be fewer visitors able to enjoy them.

Background

The National Park Service is proposing that they double, and, in some cases even triple, the entrance rates for 17 different National Parks. This additional influx of resources would earn roughly $70 million a year. The increase in ticket prices was proposed in order to assuage an $11.3 billion maintenance backlog. The Washington Post estimates that, even with the higher prices, it will take more than 161 years to pay the full amount. In addition, it will offset less than ¼ of the $297 million budget cut proposed by the Trump Administration.

Challenges

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The first challenge that the National Park Service faces is dwindling money from Congress. In terms of total dollar amounts, the National Park Service has had a relatively flat budget over the past decade. However, their share of total federal spending has fallen by 1/3 since 2005. Combined with an increase of visitors, it’s no wonder that the parks haven’t been able to keep up with maintenance costs.

The increase in park visitors is the second challenge, and it is also a probable cause for the proposed increase in ticket prices. The past 11 years have shown a significant influx in visitors. Visitations surged by over 20%, from 273 million in 2005 to 331 million in 2016. Research has shown that an increase in ticket prices causes more people to stay home. However, the effect of doubling and tripling ticket prices is unknown.

My Interpretation of the Data

When I looked at the above graph, I saw a steady decline in park funding and a steady increase in the number of park visits. I liked that this graph had clearly defined x and y axes. It also did not appear to be misleading. However, I was curious about whether repeat visitors were counted in the total, like the number of views on a you tube video.

Are Americans becoming less neighborly?

Are Americans becoming less neighborly? Yes. Studies show that a greater percentage of Americans are less likely to trust their neighbors. Urban city dwellers tend to trust their neighbors the least, along with those who are younger and those who have the least amounts of money and education. City dwellers also don’t socialize with their neighbors as often as their small town counterparts. This correlation may be due to a link between lack of socialization and lack of trust.

As the graph of the research conducted by the Pew Research Center shows, 54% of the Urban population trusts some or none of their neighbors, compared to 46% who say they trust most or all of their neighbors. The Hispanic population has the least amount of trust among their three groups surveyed, with 72% saying they can’t trust their neighbors. And of those who make less than $30,000 a year, 63% percent say they trust some or none of their neighbors. Finally, of those who have a high school education or less, 57% say they can trust some or none of their neighbors. The problem with this research is that they categorize racial groups very broadly, which ignores the cultural differences between Hispanics from different Spanish speaking countries. However, it makes sense that there is an apparent trend that the most vulnerable in the population have the least amount of trust of their neighbors.

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Another aspect of being a good neighbor is communication. There is a correlation between those in Urban areas communicating the least with their neighbors and a lack of trust. After all, if you don’t build a relationship with someone, it makes it difficult to determine whether or not they’re trustworthy. One theory the Washington Post article posits is that city dwellers have more high-powered jobs, which takes away the amount of time available for socialization. This may be true to a certain degree. But another theory has to do with the fact that America’s inner cities have become increasingly impoverished. There could also be a correlation between poverty, coupled with racial tensions and lack of education, and the lack of communication and trust between neighbors.

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Some other theories in the article have to do with lifestyle changes in the American population. The wealthy are shutting themselves off in gated communities. The majority of leisure time is now spent watching TV. Now that people are indoors in their air conditioned homes, there are fewer incentives to sit on the front porch and talk to neighbors. This lack of face to face communication is one of the major downsides of technology, and it is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

 

Do some languages require more Twitter characters than others?

Do some languages require more twitter characters than others? Yes. Twitter has decided to double their character limit, from 140 characters to 280 characters. But for languages like Chinese and Japanese, the character limit will remain the same. The idea behind this is that speakers of those languages can already express their ideas clearly within that limit. This is because data shows that, given a sample prompt, it requires a far greater number of characters for languages whose characters aren’t logograms to convey the message of the prompt. This research conducted in the Washington Post Article provides a fascinating glimpse into the way different languages are structured.

Japanese and Chinese characters are logograms, meaning that, by nature, their language is more concise. Logograms are characters that represent an entire word rather than a sound. In English, we call the smallest components of language phonemes. If one were tweeting about an elephant, for example, it would take 8 characters to comprise the word elephant, whereas in Chinese it would only take 1 character. Thus it makes sense for Twitter to raise the character limit for some languages and keep it the same for others, thereby leveling the playing field. One can see how it would take fewer characters to convey a message in Chinese compared to a similar message in English.

When one looks at the data provided from the study conducted using Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one can see that English falls roughly in the middle of the languages surveyed. This means that English, highlighted in purple and bolded, requires an average number of characters to type article 1. If one looks at the languages that require the fewest number of characters, one can see that Chinese, Korean, and Japanese require the fewest number of characters. This is evidence that the logograms make a difference.

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I trust the Washington Post as a reputable news organization. And I thought their data was presented concisely and clearly. The only criticism I had about the presentation was that the languages are highlighted in gray and there are a lot of them bunched together, which makes the graph a bit difficult to read. But the data makes sense.

As someone with a gift for languages, this study is fascinating to me. I had no idea about logograms prior to reading this article. And I know hardly anything about Twitter because I don’t own a Twitter account. However, knowing how short tweets are from reading them online, I think lengthening tweets will be helpful for communication going forward .

Are kids eating too much Halloween candy?

Has Halloween candy consumption become too much? . According to the Vox article I read, it has. Halloween is the most profitable holiday for the candy industry, with Easter right behind. Sugar is tantalizing to children, and is okay when eaten in moderation. However, the consumption of large quantities of sugar nationwide is contributing to an alarming obesity epidemic, which is being perpetuated by the candy industry through their choices of advertising.

Halloween candy sales have been increasing steadily from a little over $2.36 B in 2011 to almost $3B in 2016. When I look at this chart I see a slight but steady increase. This is concerning to me, because I feel like it is too much, especially for candy that will probably end up sitting around the house for months anyway. It might be better for trick-or-treaters to have a smaller amount of candy that they would be able to consume without going over their recommended level of daily sugar intake. And perhaps they would be able to compensate by opting for mScreen Shot 2017-10-29 at 3.31.01 PMore savory treats instead.

In total, Americans will consume roughly 300,00 tons of candy, enough to fill up a gigantic bucket as large as six Titanics! As I mentioned before, such an obscene amount of candy is incredibly wasteful, especially when you consider the amount of candy wrappers being thrown away. It is harmful both to the environment and to the health of American children. Especially closer to Halloween and Easter, children see candy commercials on their screens, especially if they are watching childrens’ programming on television . Even though people have begun to turn away from sugary sodas and soft drinks, the candy industry seems more profitable than ever, according to this data. Perhaps it’s time to think more reasonably about the amount of candy children should be eating on Halloween.

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I don’t see any errors or inconsistencies when I look at this data. But I do wonder about their data collection method. I couldn’t tell from the article where they were getting their numbers from.. And I’m also curious about what they counted as candy. Is it just chocolate, or are other sweet treats like Laffy Taffy and Candy Corn in the mix as well? I wonder how the numbers would change if they did a study of only chocolate purchases as opposed to all types of candy.

I am not opposed to enjoying candy on Halloween, but I do think it could be done more in moderation. If Americans began to shift our culture’s emphasis on sugar during Holidays and on to equally delicious healthier alternatives, perhaps we could start to counteract the growing obesity crisis, It’s important for the next generation to have a good quality of life, but that can be severely hampered by the health challenges caused by obesity and Diabetes. And that’s scarier than any witch or zombie.

Would boys benefit from being in Girl Scouts?

Would boys benefit from being in girl scouts? In general, boy scout troops tend to be more active and have many more opportunities for camping and other outdoor activities. Girl scouts, on the other hand, tend to be more focused on helping others and the community. Even though it’s great that boy scouts are learning valuable survival skills, the answer is yes. There are several badges that girl scouts earn that teach skills that both boys and girls need as they grow into adulthood, such as childcare, cooking, and expressing emotions.

According to research from Harvard mentioned in the New York Times article, jobs that require traditionally feminine skills are growing. The number of routine tasks has been declining steadily since 1980. Meanwhile, the number of non-routine analytical has shown a slight increase but appears to be staying relatively stable. And the number of tasks requiring social skills has skyrocketed. Having boys participate in childcare from an early age, like the girl scouts do with their childcare badge, can translate into future jobs in the teaching profession, as a health aide, or as a physical therapist, which all involve interacting with others.

Practicing cooking skills would also be beneficial to boys, because cooking is a necessary life skill for everyone. According to the American Time Use Survey, Women, spend an average of more than an hour per day on food preparation, whereas men spend less than an hour per day. Learning to prepare simple meals efficiently could help men ease the burden. Earning a badge similar to the girl scouts’ cooking badge would lay a good foundation.

Finally, the girl scouts have a badge that asks scouts to express their emotions in writing. Traditionally, society has taught boys to suppress their emotions and to act tough. However, this can do more harm than good . Withholding emotions isn’t healthy, and can lead to an escalation of negative behavior. If boys are allowed to express emotions, then they can have access to a great number of jobs requiring empathy and interpersonal skills.

This article and its related studies makes a solid case. I agree to a certain extent that boys could benefit from learning skills necessary for adult life. However, I also believe that there needs to be a balance in both boy scouts and girl scouts. Girl scouts could use some more opportunities to be in the wilderness and to learn first aid and survival skills so they will be equipped if a disaster strikes. If both organizations had an even amount of outdoor badges and community and life skills badges, then both genders would have access to a well rounded scouting education.

Is there a lack of research on gun violence in the United States?

Is there a lack of research on gun violence in the United States? One of the largest mass shootings in modern US History occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada this week. The number of recent shootings, from the Aurora movie theater in Colorado to the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, begs the question of how much the public really knows. According to a recent Washington Post article on this topic, the answer is yes. Gun violence has proven to be an outlier, because it should have more research being done on it given its relatively high mortality rate.

In a study referenced in this article that was conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the x-axis on the chart shows the mortality rate per 100,000 population. The y axis shows the US federal funding in billions of dollars. The scatter plot shows a general increase in federal funding as the mortality rate increases. But gun violence, which again has a relatively high mortality rate, is a significant outlier here. It doesn’t appear to be getting anywhere near as much federal funding as other leading causes of death that are around the same mortality rate. This data tells the reader that there is a lack of federal funding, which could contribute to fewer amounts of research conducted.

In fact, when research is added as a variable, one can see a similar trend. Again, gun violence doesn’t have the same amount of research being conducted as other causes of death with similar mortality rates. This amounts to a gap in the amount of gun violence research being published. This scatter plot also shows an upward trend, with the publication numbers tending to increase for causes of death with higher mortality rates.

This data looks pretty viable. The study was conducted by a reputable, peer reviewed medical journal with a high impact factor. There seems to be no foreseeable problems with this study and with how the data was collected. However, it would be interesting to know exactly which research constitutes gun violence, since it is such a broad category, and how that might have impacted this study.

This data is significant, because without sufficient research and knowledge about the causes of gun violence, we won’t be able to prevent another Las Vegas shooting from happening again. Every day, people lose their lives to gun violence. And there are those who have to suffer the pain of loss and of survivors’ guilt. With more research, more preventative measures can hopefully be put in place.